The new Arkansas state record paddlefish was recently caught by angler Jessie Wilkes on Beaver Lake.
Wilkes, from Springdale, was trolling for walleye on the White River arm of Beaver Lake when the catch occurred. Beaver Lake is well-known in the state of Arkansas as an early spring walleye hotspot.
Wilkes and his fishing buddy were using Walleye Runner crankbaits in search of some walleye for the dinner table. Suddenly, one of their rods doubled over under the weight of a big fish. After fighting the fish on 30-pound test line, Wilkes finally landed the new Arkansas state record paddlefish.
The fish had been snagged in its side which is not unusual to see in Beaver Lake.
According to Regional Fisheries Supervisor Jon Stein of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), "Paddlefish strain plankton from the water using their gillrakers and rarely hit a lure, so most that are caught are either intentionally snagged below dams, caught by commercial anglers in nets or are foul-hooked by anglers after other species like Mr. Wilkes' fish."
The new Arkansas state record paddlefish tipped the certified scales used to weigh potential record breaking fish at 105 pounds. It measured 65 inches in length. The previous record was also caught in Beaver Lake back in 2007. It weighed in at 102 pounds and eight ounces.
The new record book fish is suspected to be from a stocking program in Beaver Lake conducted in the late 1990s.
"The paddlefish from that stocking are 15 years old and older, so most are likely over 60 pounds by now. But this is the largest I've ever seen," Stein said.
With the popularity of fishing at Beaver Lake, it may not be long before this record is broken again.